Sunil Gavaskar: Indian coaches better than overrated overseas coaches

India’s 2-1 series win in Australia has blown to smithereens the thought that India does not have good, quality coaches.

India’s fielding coach Ramakrishnan Sridhar, head coach Ravi Shastri, skipper Virat Kohli, batting coach Vikram Rathour and bowling coach Bharat Arun during a training session.   -  The Hindu Photo Library

Amid the euphoria at India’s magnificent victory over the Australians, it is good to see the Indian support staff sharing the limelight. As with top quality wicket-keepers and umpires, the best support staff also go unnoticed. That’s usually an indication that they are doing their jobs efficiently and therefore aren’t seen. But, of course, in today’s television and public media times it is extremely tough not to attract attention even if one wants to avoid it. Kudos to them for the terrific job they did in Australia. They deserve every bit of the praise coming their way.

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India’s win has blown to smithereens the thought that India does not have good, quality coaches. The manner in which they handled the callow Indian bowling group in Brisbane showed that Indian coaches are better than some of the overrated overseas coaches we have seen, especially in the IPL. A bowling unit with just 13 Test wickets against the opposition’s 1,033 wickets that kept the Australian batting at bay also shows that India’s bench strength is long and deep. Not many would have given an attack shorn of Jasprit Bumrah, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma much of a chance to dismiss the Australian line-up, but the inexperienced Indian bowling group did it and in doing so have presented the Indian selection committee with a pleasant headache of whom to leave out rather than who to pick. In the end, for the series against England, T. Natarajan, whose story is the stuff of dreams, finds himself out of the frame for the Test match format but he should definitely be among the first picks when the white ball series comes along.

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While there’s every reason to celebrate India’s win, it would be foolish to ignore England’s performance against Sri Lanka where it won a series after a long time. The England skipper, Joe Root, was in superb form scoring over 400 runs with a double century and a near double in the second Test match too. He will be the key batsman for England though Ben Stokes’ capability of taking the game away from you with both bat and ball is something the Indians will definitely keep in mind. The Sri Lankan batsmen didn’t cover themselves with glory playing some extraordinarily crass shots to throw their wickets away and open the door for England. Again, while the English spinners may not make the Indian batsmen miss a heartbeat, if they get a pitch which has some turn then they won’t be easy to dominate either.

Thangarasu Natarajan has been left out of the Tests, but he should definitely be among the first picks when the white ball series comes along.   -  Getty Images


The way Nathan Lyon was neutralised in the Australia series by the Indian batsmen does encourage the belief that the English spinners won’t be a threat, but then in cricket you never know. Not many are talking about Lyon’s failure to bowl India out in Sydney and Brisbane. There was talk in the Oz media before the series started that he would get to 400 wickets in the first Test itself as he needed only six wickets to get to the mark. But even by the end of the series he hadn’t got there; so well did the Indians bat against him. If Ashwin had failed to bowl the opposition out on the final day of two Test matches there would have been a massive outcry and calls for his head. Not so with the Aussies who still think of Lyon as the GOAT. Sadly he was only bleating at the Indian batsmen who just either turned their backs disdainfully to him when he did so or laughed outright like young Rishabh Pant did.

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The one big danger for the Indians is Jofra Archer. If the pitch at the Chidambaram stadium has even a fraction of the bounce that it had in the 1970s and 1980s then he will bag heaps of wickets. The England pacers ran through the Indian batting line-up in 1976/77 on a pitch which had fair bounce and the one in 1978 against the West Indians is without doubt the fastest and bounciest pitch that I ever batted on. The pitch still has some bounce but not the carry that can make it a quick bowlers’ paradise. Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad seem to get better with age and when you add Ben Stokes to the mix it is a heady one that can blow your mind away. Mind you, India also has quick bowlers who, too, will relish bowling on a pitch that suits them.

It should be an engrossing series since England is better prepared this time around than the last time it was here.

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